Sure, breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, or instinctive to know what you need to be successful (especially in American culture). Unlike other cultures, American women aren’t always surrounded by their mothers, mother-in-law, mom friends, or the “village” of helpers. We’re often visited by an LC in the hospital and then sent on our merry way with a breastfeeding pamphlet and a list of recommended reading. So…what does a breastfeeding mama need to be successful?
- Friends/family who’ve been successful at breastfeeding
A woman who wants to breastfeed her baby and has goals for how long she plans to nurse does not need to be surrounded by naysayers or women who will discourage her from her goals. Every mother is different. Breastfeeding may not have worked for you and your family, but that doesn’t mean you should share your trials and tribulations with this new mother, nor should you tell her how great formula was…HER goal is nursing and she needs encouragement. Invite friends over to encourage, praise, and assist.
2. Calories! Fat! Protein! Vitamins!
Every woman wants to reclaim her body after pregnancy, but the weight will fall off very quivkly for a nursing mother WITHOUT dieting. This is not the time to cut calories. A nursing mother needs 300-500 extra calories per day (1000 more if she’s nursing twins), and she should stick to a healthy fat and high protein diet. Healthy fats would include nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, or fatty fish. And don’t forget to keep taking your prenatal vitamins!
3. A gallon of water a day
I drank a gallon of water a day during my pregnancy and found that the more I drank, the more I wanted and the better I felt. A nursing mom is producing milk (a fluid) therefore she needs fluids. Duh!
4. Her placenta
Okay, stop gagging and get over yourself. It’s actually becoming a mainstream, modern practice to have your placenta encapsulated after birth. It’s in capsule form just like vitamins and comes with dosage instructions. Your placenta has a heap of health benefits postpartum, but also increases your milk supply. You can book my encapsulator here. Get ‘er done!
Invest in a nursing pillow such as the MyBrest Friend Nursing Pillow, Boppy, or Twin Z if you’re having multiples. These help you get a much better position for nursing while supporting back and arm muscles. Get you a good nursing cover too so you can nurse in public no matter where you are or who you’re with. A nursing stool or ottoman to prop your feet up on can be nice, too, and you’ll want underwire free nursing bras or tanks.
6. Nipple Balms or Coconut Oil
Nursing can sometimes lead to sore, dry, or cracked nipples. Get into a habit of using an organic nipple balm like Earth Mama Angel Baby or even organic coconut oil to soothe.
7. Legit Nursing Pump
All insurance companies cover breastpumps now, but not all of them are high quality. Make sure you can get an electrical, hospital grade pump. My insurance didn’t cover the hospital grade pumps so I bought one off a resell site that was unopened, in the box for $40. Pumping can help you build stock for outings, babysitters, or bottle feeding when your spouse wants in on the feeding time. Plus, breastfeeding is all about supply and demand so pumping can help you drain your breasts after feedings to keep your supply high.
It makes life easier for a nursing mom to have everything she needs within reach. Stock a basket(s) with nipple balm, burp cloth, nursing pads, nipple shield (if needed), snacks, and water bottles. I have one in my bedroom AND in the nursery- the two places I know I’m likely to nurse my babies.
9. A supportive spouse
Nursing can start out as a full time job. It takes hard work, dedication, and patience to build supply, find comfortable positions, and get baby to latch right. Moms can often feel overwhelmed, helpless exhausted, and discouraged. They need a spouse that will rub their shoulders or feet, keep them company while they nurse, bring them funny things to read or watch while they’re in their nursing spot, and one who praises their efforts and encourages them to keep going.
10. Realistic goals
Colostrum is the first little bit of breastmilk baby will get. It’s loaded with health beenefits, antibodies, wgite blood cells, healthy fats, etc etc etc. Every mother should have a goal of at least feeding her baby that. Then, set a goal to nurse for 1 full month. See if you can make it 3 months. Then aim for 6 and hopefully you’ll make it a year or more. Many moms say if you can get past the first few months it’s a cakewalk after that.
If you find yourself struggling, hire a trained Lactation Consultant. They can be real lifesavers and the best money you’ve ever spent for your baby’s health! Also, lager beer, fenugreek, brewer’s yeast, flaxseed, and oats have all been said to increase supply. Give it a fair shot!